July 24, 2018

Expanding the Mason-NOVA Partnership


Dear Colleagues:

Next week, George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) will announce a major expansion of our partnership. Governor Terry McAuliffe will join Presidents Ángel Cabrera and Scott Ralls at an event in which they will share details about the next stage of our agreement and discuss how we plan to work together to help more transfer students earn four-year degrees.

Our partnership with NOVA has been a model of success. Each year, we receive nearly 3,000 transfer students from NOVA. These students excel in the classroom and graduate at roughly the same rate as their peers in the general student population. At Commencement each year, more than 40 percent of our undergraduate degree recipients had begun their postsecondary education at NOVA. That’s a remarkable number and a point of pride for both institutions.

While the NOVA to Mason transfer program remains one of the most successful in Virginia, there is more work to be done. Nearly 80 percent of students nationally who enroll at a two-year college say they want to earn a four-year degree. Yet 14 percent actually achieve this goal within six years. While NOVA and Mason have done a little better by graduating 20 percent, we all agree that we can improve this rate by removing many of the obstacles that deter students along the way. Misaligned curricula requirements, admissions standards, and financial aid policies are among some of the factors that stand between transfer students and the achievement of their goals. We can do better, and we will.

Our renewed partnership with NOVA will focus on the creation of a more seamless student experience. It starts with:

  • One system of enrollment and financial aid support;
  • Student services that help community college students prepare for a Mason experience earlier in their educational careers;
  • Guided program pathways in high-demand disciplines and dedicated advisors who support students from NOVA admission to Mason graduation.

In fact, we already have some experience with this style of coordination. The Volgenau School of Engineering has developed the Mason-NOVA Dual Admissions Compact program, which will allow NOVA students to dual-enroll in Mason’s mechanical engineering program.

The Northern Virginia region increasingly demands an educated workforce. Increasing the number of four-year-degree completers in the commonwealth benefits the region, our institutions, and most importantly, our students.

On Friday, we’d like to invite faculty and staff members to a special meeting with Michelle Marks, Vice President for Academic Innovation and New Ventures, Office of the Provost, where you can learn more about the evolution of our partnership and how you can get involved. Please join us at 11:30 a.m. in Merten Hall, Room 1202.

We look forward to everyone’s help in making this partnership a national model for success.
Thank you.

S. David Wu
Provost and Executive Vice President

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